The Walking Dead Set Visit Part I: Bringing Kirkman's Walking Dead to Life

"The Walking Dead" is the first work of Kirkman’s to be adapted, and considering the pedigree attached, he’s pretty pleased with the way things have gone. “I was telling Gale the other day, ‘This is the first thing I’ve had adapted, and I have no sense of what this is actually like because Frank is the director, Gale Anne Hurd is the producer,” says Kirkman. “The stuff that AMC is going to put on air is crazy. They keep showing me things, and I’m like, 'You’re not doing that!' They rip a horse open and there’s just spaghetti coming out. They actually have things that you see.

Though the adaptation is by no means a frame-for-frame Watchmen-style translation, Kirkman says "Dead" is very faithful to his original work and, in some cases, might even improve on his ideas. “Reading that pilot was just a revelation,” says Kirkman. “It’s extremely faithful. There are things that are so much like the comic, I can’t really remember the nuance of what’s different and what’s not from the comic. He’s definitely being more faithful than I expected, and everything that he’s changing is brilliant. I couldn’t be happier. I think the fans of the book are going to just love it.

The Walking Dead Set Visit Part I: Bringing Kirkman's Walking Dead to Life

Darabont wrote the pilot episode and will also direct. Five other directors will then take the reins for the initial six-episode run. “We have six different directors,” confirms Hurd. “We haven’t announced who they are yet. Frank can’t direct them all because obviously we have a very tight post-production schedule. But he will be here on set and as executive producer, which is the case with most showrunners, for every episode. The biggest problem was to say, ‘Frank, we cannot clone you, and you can’t wear all these hats.’

I have to put my pilot through the editing and post process,” adds Darabont. “Plus I’ve got to get back to L.A. and kind of ride herd on the writers generating the subsequent episodes. I’ve written the first two. I’ve got four scripts yet to come in, and time is getting short. My intention is not to be an absentee landlord. I love this thing and really want to keep my hand very much in the process. I don’t want to be one of those guys who gets a show set up, directs the pilot and then buggers off and is never heard from again.

Darabont wrote the first two episodes. And Kirkman himself will pen Episode Four. “He’s terrific,” says Hurd of Kirkman’s script work. “For a first-timer, all those years writing comic books was great training. We also have Chic Eglee, who most recently came from 'Dexter' and before that 'The Shield' and 'Dark Angel'. And also Jack LoGiudice, who came to us from 'Sons of Anarchy', and Adam Fierro, who actually wrote the episode of 'The Shield' that Frank directed. And Glen Mazzara, who’s also from 'The Shield'.

If the series succeeds, Season Two will be AMC’s normal 13-episode order. [Editor's Note:: The series has been renewed] Darabont says it’s likely he’ll return to write and direct some of those episodes as well. Despite confidence that the series will be well received, Darabont says he’s not getting ahead of himself. The most important thing now is to deliver the best six episodes possible. From what we’ve seen so far, "The Walking Dead" should be a real treat for horror fans.

Look for Part II next Thursday.

Check out our exclusive set visits:
Part 2 = Zombies Invade the ATL
Part 3 = Casting and Prepping Production
Part 4 = Prosthetics and Buckets of Blood

- Jeff Otto

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